Engineering Controls

If . . .
The machine or work environment can be physically changed to prevent employee exposure to the potential hazard,

Then . . .
The hazard can be eliminated with an engineering control.

Engineering controls are designs or modifications to equipment, industrial plants, processes, or systems that reduce the risk of worker exposure to a hazard. They operate on a “hazard isolation principle”, either by removing a hazardous workplace condition (such as through ventilation) or by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard (such as through machine guards). These methods control hazards either at the source of the hazard or in transmission, rather than protecting the worker at the point of exposure to the hazard. Engineering controls offer a uniform standard of protection to all workers and function continuously without human supervision or intervention.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines engineering controls as the third most effective method of worker safety, behind completely eliminating (removing) or substituting (replacing) a hazardous substance. Some occupational health and safety bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, consider all forms of hazard control which reduce exposure to hazards through workplace design to be engineering controls, including elimination and substitution.